What is Aki Matsuri (Fall Festival)?

The New Mexico Japanese-American Citizens League (NMJACL) has been hosting Aki Matsuri (trans.: fall festival) for over twenty years. The festival is the main annual event for NMJACL and serves as a venue to share Japanese and Japanese-American (JA) culture with all of New Mexico. Proceeds from the festival benefit NMJACL’s ongoing efforts to document events and history related to Japanese-American internment in New Mexico and the southwest, as well as funds for construction of a cultural center.

Our Story

The festival attracts guests and performers from around the state and beyond, showcasing traditional Japanese, dance, song, and musical performances, martial arts, arts and crafts, Japanese food, and more.

2023 Aki Matsuri at EXPO NM

We are excited to announce a NEW VENUE for Aki Matsuri the annual Japanese Fall Festival.

 2023 AKI MATSURI FALL FESTIVAL will be held at EXPO NM on Sunday, September 24th 2023.



More info available HERE

Our Mission

MISSION OF AKI MATSURIAki Matsuri (Japanese Fall Festival) has evolved over the past 40 or more years, but it has always been a celebration for the community to enjoy. Food and entertainment have been the mainstay for these cultural-sharing events since the beginning with many from the Japanese community volunteering and lending a hand to host this huge event.
The founding members of the New Mexico Japanese American Citizens League (NMJACL) started as the “Albuquerque Nisei Club” with a small group of families, from Albuquerque to Los Lunas to Gallup and surrounding areas, who wanted to preserve and honor their heritage and culture as their parents did before them. These gatherings, which included parties and picnics, eventually spread out to the community as a cultural-sharing event, or the annual Aki Matsuri.
Aki (秋)in Japanese is fall, and Matsuri (祭り) is festival. The events were held in various venues over the years, starting in the small parking lot at the former Taro’s Gardens (Japanese restaurant) on San Mateo NE, to the lot at Minato’s Japanese Restaurant on Montgomery NE, just west of Juan Tabo, and moving to the Civic Plaza for several years when the event outgrew the small locations.
When other events preempted Aki Matsuri at the Civic Plaza, the festival subsequently found a home for many years in the courtyard of Japanese Kitchen Restaurant at Louisiana Blvd. & Indian School Rd. NE. The celebration again outgrew this cozy, tight space under the trees, too, and temporarily relocated to the open space in the NW corner of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center for a couple of years.
With plans for development of that space, Aki Matsuri sought another venue at the National Hispanic Cultural Center for many years. As history may have it, our event was preempted by a larger event for the same annual date scheduled for our festival, forcing NMJACL to once consider other alternatives venue.
In 2018, Aki Matsuri moved to its current location at the New Mexico Veterans Memorial, which seemed to be more accessible to the community with additional off-site parking and shuttle service offered by the City of Albuquerque. We were overly pleased with this new venue, but then, COVID-19 happened and Aki Matsuri came to a halt for the next two years in 2019 and 2020,
which dampened our goal for Aki Matsuri.
Finally, in 2021 and 2022, NMJACL ventured out to put on our annual Japanese Fall Festival andwas just “blown away” by the reception received from the community. We had more individuals and businesses wanting to be a part of Aki Matsuri, and literally outgrew the location by 2022. The off-site parking, street parking and vendor booth spaces were not sufficient for all who wanted to be a part of the event.After much consideration, discussions and planning, NMJACL has found another “home” for Aki Matsuri 2023 at Expo New Mexico (State Fairgrounds). The site offers more than enough parking, is centrally located and accessible to visitors via public transportation in Albuquerque’s International District, and dotted with more shade trees than any other location we have been in the past. The staging area is open and used for concerts, the vendor booths have overhead lighting, are air conditioned, and the walkways are covered for visitors to visit the booths in a leisurely manner.There is also a huge indoor Art Exhibit Hall for displays and demonstrations, and a new home for Ginza Table sales, again in a lighted and air conditioned location.The primary goal members of NMJACL have been toiling over to host Aki Matsuri year after year has been to establish a Japanese Cultural Center in Albuquerque one day. Over the years, we have accumulated museum-level artifacts donated by family and friends of the organization to share with the public one day. We have also amassed valuable research of Japanese Americans in New Mexico and have published some of these findings in “Confinement in the Land of Enchantment” book after many years of documentations of the four WWII Internment Camps in New Mexico, along with interviews with survivors and individuals who resided in the communities where the camps were located.

A Japanese Cultural Center in Albuquerque would showcase our culture, heritage, and history that we wish to impart to our children and the community. This is the ultimate Mission of Aki Matsuri.